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The Healer
The Healer
Actors: Miranda Otto, William Fichtner, Lothaire Bluteau, Ryan Smith, Bianca Crudo
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
R     2004     1hr 54min

An unforgettable & inspiring journey that takes a family from the center of crisis to the edge of salvation when a mothers faith & the hards of a healer are a young boys only hope. Studio: First Look Home Entertain Relea...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Miranda Otto, William Fichtner, Lothaire Bluteau, Ryan Smith, Bianca Crudo
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Creators: Agnieszka Holland, Christopher Zimmer, Eric Jordan, Iwona Ziulkowska-Okapiec, Joachim Sturmes, Arlene Sarner, Roman Gren
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Religion, Television
Studio: First Look Pictures
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/19/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 54min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Polish, Russian
Subtitles: Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Miranda Otto shines in this one until the script bogs down
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/09/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

""The Healer" is the Australian television name for an independent film (a joint Canadian-Polish production) that was originally entitled "Julie Walking Home." Knowing both titles for this 2002 film, and the interesting combination of nations the production represents, is key because it really is two different movies thrown together with some degree of success. I checked it out because I wanted to see Miranda Otto in it (big Éowyn fan) and knew absolutely nothing about it (my assumption was that she would be the title character since her face is the only one on the cover, but that proves not to be the case).

After the prologue in which we since the healer first being a healer, "Julie Walking Home" would describe the first act of this film from director Agnieszka Holland ("Washington Square"). Julie Makowsky (Miranda Otto) comes home early from a trip with her eight-year-old twins, Nick (Ryan Smith) and Nicole (Bianca Crudo), and gets an unpleasant surprise from her husband, Henry (Willaim Fichtner). Her response is to take the kids and leave immediately, but they are in the back of the car screaming about daddy running after them and one of the twins gets out. As far as Julie is concerned her marriage is over and I was intrigued by the notion of a pair of twins, who are closer than most twins, torn apart by a divorce. But that is not with this film is about because before the family can break apart one of the twins gets sick.

The doctors say there is no hope and from a most unexpected source Julie hears about Alexei the healer (Lothair Bluteau), a Russian who is laying hands on the sick and dying in Poland. So she packs up her dying child over her husband's objections and heads to Europe. Once there, Alexei picks her out of the crowd and puts his hands on her child. "The Healer" second act of this film is potentially interesting: you find yourself wondering what happened to Alexei over the years between the boy we saw in the prologue and the man he is now. But the focus of the movie suddenly shifts to the attraction between Alexei and Julie and suddenly this film is a romance.

Now we have a third movie, which, again, is potentially interesting. Julie has already proven she will do anything to save her child, so what must she think about Alexei's attention? Throw into this the fact that Julie is on the rebound from her marriage and has been critical of religion, and the complex emotions with which she is dealing seem rather overwhelming. Indeed, Otto's performance is the centerpiece of this film, but the script, by Holland along with Roman Gren and Arlene Sarner puts her through too much in the last act. When Julie makes love to Alexei it is hard to tell if she is really in love or just extremely grateful. Those who check out "The Healer" because of Otto will not be disappointed by her performance, but they will feel unsatisfied by how all the plot threads are resolved in by the finish. There are the bits and pieces of a couple of good films here, but the mix does not match."
Mr. Ed | Centereach, NY USA | 09/03/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"There is some really good acting by all the cast which is why it deserved the two stars. As another reviewer stated, the plot threads are left unresolved and the ending seemed kind of like someone said, "ok, here's the two hour mark. Wrap it up." I did like that they were starting to explore the issue of religious and spiritual beliefs, but they dropped it pretty quickly. How does the healing of her child effect the mother's own spiritual belief system? Dunno. It was like, kid healed, end of story.(not end of movie--I didn't spoil the ending). Mother has affair with healer and then poof, he's gone. Why? Where'd he go? What's he up to now? How did this affair effect him after he went back to his country? Dunno.
The script needed some healing."
Aberjhani | Georgia, USA | 06/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The film THE HEALER (a.k.a. "Julie Walking Home") poses the kind of unsettling metaphysical questions that many prefer to avoid asking. At the same time, it suggests some intriguing answers. Like the film THE CRIME OF PADRE AMARO (please see companion review) the movie "The Healer" is a study of the degrees to which human beings can enjoy the gift of human sexuality while simultaneously attempting to serve as channels for spiritual healing, social harmony, and political integrity. That Alexei--played flawlessly by Lothaire Bluteau--is a true and gifted spiritual healer becomes clear from the outset. We witness him as a child in a hospital where doctors discover that standing him on the back of an ailing patient relieves the patient's pain. Moreover, his very presence apparently has a healing impact on every patient in the ward. As an adult, Alexei becomes famous as a healer who shares his gifts freely with the world. But like the proverbial prophet without honor in his own hometown, he has to endure the complaints of an aging mother who points out that not only is his spiritual generosity towards the world doing nothing to alleviate her financial distress but it is perhaps not the best way to prepare for his own latter years.

Much of "The Healer" actually centers around the rift that occurs in the life of the Makowskys, a Canadian family whose happiness is torn asunder when the husband--played with superb complexity by William Fichtner--has an affair, and the young son develops cancer. Is the child's disease a physical manifestation of the family's spiritual dis-ease following the father's adultery? Good question to ponder.

In her desperation to save their son, the mother--exemplary work here by Miranda Otto--seeks out the assistance of the healer Alexei. From their very first meeting, the attraction between them is clearly both spiritual and sexual. The child is indeed healed and all returns uneasily to their separate lives. Then Alexei visits the mother and the two have an affair. Their sexual union seems to rob the healer of his ability to help the little boy when his cancer returns. However, ironically, it also results in a pregnancy. Is this a bad thing or a good thing for the family and the healer? Pay close attention to the end and see what you think.

by Aberjhani
author of I Made My Boy Out of Poetry
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File Library of American History)
Excellent exploration of emotion
Andrew Casad | Chapel Hill, NC | 12/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"While I agree with the comments from the previous reviewer that the plot took a less exciting turn than may have been hoped once Julie (Miranda Otto) returns from Poland after having taken her son to be seen by a healer, the film is nevertheless a powerful exposition of human emotion. Miranda Otto delivers a powerful performance that takes the viewer on a voyage through hope and despair, love and hate, ecstasy and torment. The story is powerful when it is viewed as one that it is about healing, not about curing. Julie is more in need of healing than anyone in the story and only through her experience with Alexi is she able to return to be the woman she was before being injured by the infidelity of her common-law husband and the discovery of her young son's terminal cancer. Julie is deeply wounded and only through the profound experiential healing which she finds in Alexi is she able to achieve the healing which she is both unable and unwilling to uncover in the lives of those around her whom she injures on account of her dis-ease. While it may seem to be central, her son's illness is merely the catalyst that destoys who Julie is that allows her to be remade as a whole person through her healing. The film also unveils some of the beauty of Poland, a nation rarely shown on film. Lastly, the way that faith is handled in the film is also rather profound--it is shown as something which is both powerful and dangerous; something that has amazing potential when tapped and at the same time an incredible destabilizing force. This sense is heightened by the subtle but evocative score in the film."